Libraries offer a plethora of creative and interesting events, however, reports by Pew Research Center and most recently by the Carnegie UK Trust indicate that a lot of citizens are not aware of the library’s services and programs. There may be several reasons why, but the most important is the lack of presence in the local community.
Creating a simple marketing plan and focusing on a few promotional channels is the best way to improve your library’s presence in the community and make people aware of its existence. Here’s a preview of the most important channels a library can use to create a presence in the community.
1. Website content
The library’s website should be your most important tool when communicating with the local community and at the same time, it is the most effective way to inform your visitors about all the things they can do at the library.
This could be the services available and how to use them, the events taking place, the fresh materials added or guides on how to use the library’s technology. On top of this, the website represents an extension of your library making it available 24/7 with online resources and information.
The Public Library Of Brookline Website
Since you have all these events organized at the library and people are introducing and presenting various topics interesting for the library’s patrons, why not transform these learnings in a blog post and make them available to a broader audience? This way, you can raise the readers’ interest in future events and offer educational content that people are really interested.
Also, each blog post is a source of content that can be easily spread on Facebook or Twitter and this way you let the audience become the library’s advocates and promote it, encouraging new followers.
New York Public Library Blog Page
Search Engine Optimization is an essential technique to use if you want the library to be more visible online with links to the library’s resources appearing in search engines.
This can be achieved by writing blog posts around topics that the users care about or by updating the website with the information sought for by the users. Therefore, understanding the searcher’s intent is a prerequisite for a successful search engine optimization strategy and is a great way to promote the library’s services which attracts more users to the library.
Google Search: Printing in Randers City
Just by using Facebook as the sole online communication channel, you can reach a broad number of citizens with topics and content tailored for each of them. That is because Facebook is the most used social network and people are connected to it all day long through their phones or computers.
This way, patrons can stay connected to the library’s newsfeed and events all day and you spend no money on promotional materials. Win-win, right? Here you can find an explanatory webinar with 15 ideas on improving your library’s Facebook page.
South Dublin Libraries Facebook Page
By capturing and sharing on Instagram or Twitter the day to day activities and events that take place at the library, you provide to patrons some behind-the-scenes insights into the library world and raise their interest. Also, you can use Instagram or Twitter to emphasize the human side of the library, which people will take as a breath of fresh air through all the congested online ads.
DLR Libraries Twitter account
6. Streaming videos
If you have a mobile device you can easily live stream events at your library. Boston Public Library (BPL) surveyed its patrons in early 2014 and found that access to streaming videos was one of the top-requested services. Furthermore, streaming videos are a real trend these days since Facebook added this functionality.
Nonetheless, videos can be streamed through the website or any other platform where you consider the patrons are most active. It is a real benefit to bring the library to the online community and make them aware of the events taking place at the library at that particular moment.
Austin Public Library Facebook Live section
Video is growing to dominate users’ online activity: 78% of people watch videos online every week, and 55% watch videos online every day. Indeed, a video strategy would require a lot of work but there are a lot of events taking place at the library, so why not put them on camera and share them with the audience for a later watch?
Take the example of San Francisco Library Youtube Channel, which shares everything starting from stories to on-stage readings and also historical short movies from the library.
San Francisco Public Library YouTube Channel
Podcasts are a less commonly used channel to raise awareness of all the libraries’ services, but it is still a successful one. Just by distributing free audio with educational and unique content you can win many patrons. On a single medium, you can gather diverse and interesting topics and get broad recognition. Take the example of The New York Public Library Podcast iTunes or Soundcloud Page which gathers writers, artists, and thinkers for smart talks and provocative conversations from the nation’s cultural capital.
In the same way, you create book clubs you can easily create a podcast listening club and this way reach even the people that are always on the run and have no time for reading.
New York Public Library Podcast Page
9. Newsletters and e-mails
People are always busy easily forget about events if they are not reminded. Therefore, you can give people the option to choose to receive e-mail alerts for the activities they are interested and even for the small events. The option to add them to their calendar is a real benefit. For example, London Public Library sends e-mails on various topics which inform the patrons about the latest library news, upcoming programs in the library and also the newest book titles.
London Public Library Newsletters
10. Messaging apps
Yes, it might be a controversial way of communicating with the patrons since all the messages are private but with a messaging app, you can make a more personal connection with patrons and maybe even answer more personal questions. Many libraries started using SMS (or similar) for a variety of purposes, including notification for items available for pickup, due date reminders, information on the availability of library materials, provision of call numbers and locations, and others.
Text Messages at The Indianapolis Public Library
These are just a few of the channels you can use to strengthen your online presence and attract more users to your library. And don’t forget the most important aspects are to understand your patrons as well as their needs in order to create a marketing plan and stick to it too.
Want to learn more about how to make the library more visible in Google search results? We’re preparing an insightful blog post where we talk to with a library specialist dedicated to helping libraries show up online. So, don’t forget to subscribe!
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